The industry’s ability to contribute more to the country’s economic recovery is being severely hampered by the government’s policy on alcohol tax, an exclusive OLN survey has shown.

According to leading retailers and suppliers, if chancellor George Osborne froze duty in next month’s Budget, 24% of the several hundred firms we asked could afford to take on more staff, while for 22% it could stop them closing down, saving vital jobs.

Twenty-nine per cent said they had already been forced to make redundancies as a result of duty hikes, which have seen tax on wine increase by 50% and by 44% on spirits since the escalator was introduced in 2008, putting a significant strain on businesses.

Retailers and suppliers voted overwhelmingly against more alcohol taxes, with 91% urging restraint.

Sixty-three per cent said a freeze would make them more profitable and 22% could consider expansion.

Ninety per cent agreed it was unfair that the UK drinks industry is one of the most taxed in Europe and, following the government’s decision last year to cut duty on beer in a bid to help the pub trade, 86% said it was time to do the same on wine and spirits.

The results of our poll add further ammunition to the Wine & Spirit Trade Association’s efforts to convince government to scrap the duty escalator now – a year before it is due to end – to boost the economy by sparing the industry another 2% plus inflation rise.

Off Licence News is adding its weight to the campaign and urging readers to voice their concerns about the impact more increases will have on them.

Retailers and suppliers should follow the link on our home page or click here to enter your details and an email will automatically be sent to your MP.

This will make sure your voice is heard before the chancellor delivers his Budget statement on March 19.

It will only take a few minutes, but could significantly boost the health of the industry and safeguard the future of hundreds of jobs.

But you will need to act by February 26 to ensure your opposition can be registered in time to influence the chancellor.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said: “The alcohol duty escalator is a super-tax on a great British industry, including a large number of SMEs [small and medium enterprises] across the country, our pubs and restaurants and many hard- pressed consumers.

“The impact of the escalator means that an important sector of the British economy, of which we should all be proud, is fighting to contribute with one hand tied behind its back.

“Independent research from Ernst & Young shows that, by scrapping the escalator, the chancellor would generate an extra £230 million a year for public finances and create 6,000 new jobs.”